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French troops headed to Central African Republic; U.N. to vote on peacekeepers

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 3:49 PM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Central African Republic government is under control of former rebel leaders
  • U.N. set to authorize peacekeepers for the country
  • French troops there already act as a security force for French nationals
  • The nation was a French colony until 1960 and is one of the poorest on Earth

(CNN) -- More French troops are on their way to the Central African Republic ahead of a United Nations Security Council vote on peacekeepers for the nation ravaged by persistent violence, sources in the African Union mission to the Central African Republic told CNN on Wednesday.

The additional troops are coming through Cameroon while military supplies have already been flown into Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the sources said.

Late last month, France pledged to send 1,000 more troops to add to the 400 already there. The current troops in the nation, it says, are there in a noncombat mission to protect French nationals and help secure the airport in the capital.

An African Union force is already in the nation.

The U.N. has suggested its peacekeeping force should eventually augment the African-led mission. That potential force could number about 6,000 troops and 1,700 police personnel, the U.N. says. A vote should take place this week, officials have indicated.

France to send 1,000 more troops to Central African Republic

Former leader Gen. Francois Bozize fled the country in March after a coup led by rebel leader Michel Djotodia.

A transitional government was put in place, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, but the country continues to be wracked by unrest, and new elections have yet to be held.

The landlocked nation in central Africa is home to about 5 million people.

It declared independence from France in 1960 and has since been under the leadership of presidents or emperors.

Despite vast resources, including gold, timber, diamonds and uranium, it's among the poorest nations in the world.

Opinion: Why Central African Republic is slipping close to catastrophe

Central African Republic: What's going on, what's at stake, what's next

CNN's Nima Elbagir contributed to this report.

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